AU Blended Learning University

How Arden University improved distance learners’ experiences with Unitu

Explore how Arden University enhanced student and staff engagement through Unitu, an innovative platform that improved feedback processes. Delve into the positive impact on online course content, student engagement, and effective resolution of concerns.
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UniversityAU Blended Learning University
University Size: 5700
Location: Blended Learning University
Impact Summary:
  • Student reps engagement has increased on Unitu and in meetings.
  • Students’ experience of the platform has been positive; they’ve felt much more like a community and felt their voices have been listened to.
  • Staff have been able to gain valuable feedback and representative data on students opinions and concerns quicker than previous methods.

Arden University offers access to degrees, master’s and MBA programmes via online distance learning or flexible blended learning study modes. This flexibility attracts students of all ages, from 18 to 80 years old, who are supported both at study centres (in Birmingham, Manchester or London) and online. With a philosophy of taking ownership and working to create a nurturing environment for all stakeholders, listening to students is an important component of the institution’s planning and development.

The Challenge

As a private sector University operating a primary distance learning institution, Arden was struggling to gain a clear oversight of the student experience amongst its student body. A challenge with any course, which distance learning providers feels even more strongly, is the need to obtain continuous feedback from students and student leaders. Arden believes that student feedback is vital as part of a strategy to support students to be successful.

In addition, staff and student leaders have not had an easy way to engage with their peers and the entire study body. They would rely on course leaders or surveys that would provide pockets of information at a specific moment in time.

 

The Solution

“Student feedback is vital to the University. We support our students and we want them to do well. We use Unitu to help students to provide feedback to ensure that we are delivering to our values. Whether the news is good or bad or we can do things better. It’s really important we receive feedback from our students”

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Dr. Philip Hallam
CEO, Arden University

Unitu is an effective solution for improving student and staff engagement in the feedback process for both on-campus students and distance learners.

For Arden, we have been able to provide a solution which has engaged student leaders and staff through an easy, accessible and streamlined platform which interacts with other systems used by students. It is at least as important for distance learners as those on campus to see staff addressing concerns and issues quickly.

What Arden University students think of Unitu?

"I would say there are noticeable improvements; There are timely resolutions in terms of feedback. One example was the issue I raised of the inability to release my current at some point module. It was resolved a few hours after posting on Unitu."
"I appreciate the changes that have been made, as it keeps me informed of what is happening and the different topics that are being discussed, whether they be of great significance or not. I also observe that the issues that are raised by my peers are dealt with/ responded to on a timely basis. I have seen where one of the main issues that are of great concern to my classmates and me; though the response was somewhat unfavourable, it was also given on a timely basis."
"Unitu as a platform has allowed students to share their own points of view regarding their studies and how they can improve on their own. Also, the platform is a great place to meet and interact with fellow students."
"I have found Unitu to be a very practical virtual community where issues are discussed and resolved. The loneliness of a distance-learning experience has now been changed because we are forming relationships in Unitu."
"Unitu has a great impact on students, including lecturers and support staff. It's where you are constantly kept abreast of what's taking place within your respectful university. Staff and board members also benefit when students share ideas and provide feedback on their learning materials and teaching style. Unitu is definitely a great support to students."

The Result

“Prior to Unitu, when I was a student representative, a week or two before our meeting I would go on iLearn. I would message students saying I am going to this meeting any issues or concerns get in touch with me. I’ve never had responses. Whereas when Unitu came in, that has been eradicated, because everyone is saying things now because more and more people are getting the message, whereas on iLearn it wasn’t happening. In that way Unitu has helped me massively as a student rep, as I am getting students saying, can you mention this for me.

Unitu brings people together.”

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Imran Ali Khalifa
Student Representative

Unitu has produced some really interesting results for Arden University in three areas. Of particular interest is the extent to which feedback through Unitu has focussed on actions that improve online course content such as additional information, links to useful websites and tidying up content where there has been a potential lack of clarity.

These developments improve not just the student experience but also help to enhance student attainment and reduce the risk of the retention issues often associated with distance learning courses where students struggle with a lack of support and guidance.

Student reps have also noticed a dramatic increase in student engagement within the private area of the feedback board, where students can discuss issues and concerns as a cohort group. Students’ experience of the platform has been very positive. Feedback suggests that they feel much more like a community – something which is really important with distance learning courses.

As well as positive feedback from students, staff have been equally complimentary. Unitu has enabled course leaders and online tutors to gain valuable feedback and representative data on students’ opinions and concerns much more quickly than with previous methods.

“Distant learning can be an isolating experience, so what this platform does, is allows them to have an online space, an online student community, where they can all come together about anything to do with their university life.”

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Jo Wright
Head of Academic Affairs

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